Tag Archives: Brasenose College

Day 38: The Amsterdam Field Manual on “Effective Exam Preparation Avoidance”

Henry, our Red Coated Tour Guide, is out entertaining cute children right now, so I'll have to stand in his place. Sorry - he's really good.

[Cue the soothing tour guide voice.]

Welcome.  Thank you for your interest in the highly sought-after talent of Effective Exam Preparation Avoidance.  Are you a beginner?  Perhaps you’ve had some experience yourself?  Oh, are you an expert?  Well then I’m sure you will have helpful contributions during our discussion.  Come along now…this way please.

Stop 1: Breakfast

Be sure and seek out a place to eat your morning meal as far away from your domicile as humanly possible.  Make sure it’s raining, and forget your umbrella so you can have “just one more cup of coffee until the rain lets up.”  Consider whether or not you’ve absolutely exhausted all possible conversation with the restaurateur.  If so, you’ve started out on the right track!  Next…

Stop 2:  Essential housekeeping chores

Although you could do laundry tomorrow afternoon following your three-hour exam covering a boatload of material, it would be better if you did laundry now!  That way, the three trips back and forth to put the laundry in, switch it out to the drier, and take it back to your room will absorb precious studying minutes.  Need even more help?  That’s easy – forget your laundry detergent.  Bravo!  On to…

Task 3: Examine the interior of your dorm room while avoiding the open books on your desk

In case you don’t quite understand this advice, I’ll help you out with useful information to illustrate my point.  For example, did you know that my dorm room floor is so uneven that you can effectively measure the angle with an index card?  Well, now you do.  It’s easy…

Just look at your prefab bookshelves jutting out from around a corner in your room.  Measure the length at floor level.  See? It’s exactly the width of the “narrow” side of an index card!  Now, let’s measure the top.  Wow! It’s exactly the length of the “wide” side of an index card!  Now, just subtract the narrow from the wide in inches, then turn that into a right triangle spread over the area of one side of the floor to the other. Calculate, and voila!

Good job!  30 more minutes down the drain.  Excellent work.

What?  It’s only 11:30?  Well, that’s a mere 3.5 hours of avoidance.  Not nearly enough to be effective.  Perhaps an early lunch?  Definitely.  A nap because the lunch made you sleepy?  Perfect.  Now, we’re talking.  You’ve avoided your family law final exam for 5.25 hours now.  After all, what in the world would you have done with all that studying time?


Task 4:  Panic and freak out because you just wasted 5.25 hours of precious study time.

A good way to approach this point in the process would be to grab all the highlighters you can find, throw open your laptop, madly begin typing as fast as possible to complete the outline that is only half-way done, forget a good portion of week one and two course material therefore having to re-read several cases and a few hundred pages, look at your red eyes in the mirror, try to remedy your red eyes with saline solution, jump back on the bed and resume the “madly typing and reading” portion of your work, and keep this up for the next seven hours.  Make sure and skip your dinner so you’ll have a blood sugar level of less-than-optimum.  Good.  Very good.

I can see you’re going to be a pro at this.

Repeat the “freaking out and cramming cycle” until 2:00 a.m., sleep until 5:30 a.m., finish your notes at 7:00 a.m. Print them out, and seek out a healthy breakfast to get your metabolism back into some semblance of a chemical balance to hit right before the exam.

There.  You did it.  You have now completed the Amsterdam course on Effective Exam Preparation Avoidance!  If you feel you need to crash for a three-hour nap, then you will get extra points plus a bonus video.

Tune in tomorrow where I’ll demonstrate Effective Packing Your Suitcase Avoidance.

Have a nice day.

~~ ~~ ~~

Disclaimer:  1) Amsterdam is the name of the third quadrangle section of residential halls in Brasenose College completed in the late 1800s.  They have in no way endorsed this exam avoidance program, nor is this blog post to imply such assertion.

2) Rumor has it that if you do the opposite of the advice in this field manual, you will pass an upcoming exam with flying colors.

Day 23: Harry Potter Served Me Soup

It’s midnight in the UK and I’m completely worn out.  However, I wanted to share a 2:30 minute video with you showing highlights of our Harry Potter Theme Night here in Brasenose College.

By the way – the owl you see in the video is something I made at the last minute to enhance my costume.  We wrote “mail” at the table and sent it, via the owl, down the row until it reached its destination.  The owl was quite good in accomplishing its job.

In the past, there has evidently been a James Bond Theme Night but it seems the lightening bolt-scarred character has taken over.  The staff did a great job preparing the grounds, the menu, dressing up in character and helping us have a nice break from all the studying.

Hope you are having a very good day, wherever you are and with whatever tasks you may be undertaking at the moment.

**CLICK HERE FOR HARRY POTTER THEME NIGHT VIDEO (Tune is The Potter Waltz from the HP Soundtrack)**

“Splendus Daius!” ~ Love, Kelly

Day 22: If I Go Missing, Just Check the Line at the Post Office + The Man Who Tucks His Pants in His Socks

As I began to write tonight, the first thought I had was for you to “close your eyes, and imagine that you’re in a line that never ends…”

Well, that doesn’t work in written post, now does it?

So my SECOND thought was to begin with, “Imagine, if you will, that you’re standing in a line that never ends….”  Are you with me now?  Standing in that line that never ends?  Perhaps – – oh, let just say for the fun of it – – that you’re in a Post Office line in the United Kingdom.

You begin to get very sleepy…lulled to the point of your eyes going in and out of focus, fighting the urge to doze off as you hear a very British, very proper and very robotic voice say, “Cashier number Two, pleezzz.”

Pause.  Head begins to nod again.  Pause.  Look around and begin to take note of what everyone is wearing, what everyone is holding to take to the window and mail, and what everyone else is doing to manage their own dozing-off behaviors.

More time lapses.  More time.  “Cashier number Four, pleezzz.”

Fifteen minutes later your head jerks up from nodding off to sleep.  You look around sheepishly and think, “Oh well, I may have made a fool of myself but at least it’s probably my turn,” only to focus again on those standing in line with you and realizing that you haven’t moved an inch.

The story I have begun to set before you is not imagined.  Only the characters have changed.  Okay, no they haven’t.  It’s me – and thirty or forty other people in the Post Office line.  Waiting.

I’m not exactly feeling like Dorothy.  I mean, I’m not standing there in the Post Office, clicking my little New Balance beige tennis shoes together saying, “There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home….”  Rather, I think that each time I go to the Post Office my head is more filled with thoughts such as these:

1.  Why is the “AVAILABLE 24 HOURS FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE!! Automatic teller machine always broken?”

2.  Why is it that people who don’t place importance on personal hygiene are the ones that seem to populate the Post Office lines?

3.  Why is it that we’re (the US) the country who came up with the phrase “going postal” and they’re (the UK) the ones with bullet proof glass between the service providers and the public?

4.  Why is it that when I have a package I’m sending to the US that weighs more than two kilos, that the service provider looks at me while shaking their head up and down (as if to make me nod in sync) say, “Well, you KNOW, if this package contained BOOKS (looks at me with wider eyes), then your PRICE would be GREATLY re-DUCED!”  Do they THINK I’m going to lie to the Post Office of the United Kingdom and risk the souvenir that I searched for over a three week period be confiscated?  Really?

These and other thoughts are what occupy my head whilst (Don’t you love that word? Whilst?) visiting the Post Office.

But here’s a new thought I had today.  The UK Post Office literally forced me to just stop, look around, wait, and think.  And, for that – I was actually grateful.

And, when I turned and finally strolled out of the Post Office, I had given up my struggle to make the line move.  I had laid my stress of reading assignments aside for the moment.  And because I wasn’t preoccupied with these thoughts as I had previously been before entering the Post Office, I spied a man pushing his bicycle with his pants tucked into his dress socks.

Then – I giggled and smiled at the postal employee just past the exit because he was taking his SWEET TIME unloading the letters from the deposit box outside.

As I walked back to the college, the very proper British robotic voice played over in my head, this time talking (in my head – not out loud!) to those I walked by on the sidewalk: “Step aside and move out of the Way, pleez.”  “Guess it’s time for some Lunch, pleez.”  “How about Panini, pleez…”

And, to all my friends in the U.S.  “Have a very good Evening, pleez…”

** ** ** Here’s a treat for you.  If you look through the middle of the crowd in this last picture, you’ll see the man with the balding spot.  Look down, and then see his pants tucked into his socks.  Hee hee hee!  Practical (for cycling) AND funny to look at! A two-fer!

40 Days in the UK (Days 7-10): Getting Down to Business

Day 7:  “The Height of Rudeness,” and Kelly tries to manage her new video camera..HA!

Today I’m going to share a two videos of my travels.

The first one is a special treat for you.  Pictured here is Sir David Yardley who is an Oxford emeritus fellow and ambassador/representative in the UK to several political or national bodies.  He welcomed our group to the college and then gave a little talk on cultural differences between the US and the UK.

Here he talks about his hay fever.  I wish I had the entire talk for you…after he gave a small note to us on the Obama comment about “Kicking BP’s a**” and what that comment means in the UK, I decided to capture a short clip of the moment.  More on that comment in my upcoming “British phrases, etc” entry.  Here’s Sir David:

(you might need to turn up the volume or use headphones)

The next two videos are from this afternoon.  I was walking across campus just now and I heard pipe organ music coming from the college chapel.  I didn’t even see the pipes the first time I visited at night.  I walked in, stood there for a good ten minutes listening, took two short videos and left.  The gentleman was practicing and with the echo in the chapel, the moment was simply divine.

I hope you enjoyed the videos.  I’m going to try and capture some special moments and continue to upload short clips on YouTube then post the clips here.  I was having trouble uploading directly into my blog today – I’ll try again, because the quality will be better.  Below are two pictures to close out today’s entry.  The first is of the lecture hall where our classes are held.  The second was taken off High Street today.  I don’t see many hat shops so I thought you might enjoy the shot as well.  Take care…KR

Day 8: A Brush with C.S. Lewis, “Kelly’s Turf” and The PUB is UNDER the CLASSROOM!

After class this morning I decided that I had waited long enough for my body to catch up on the time change and that the crowded sidewalks were really no excuse to avoid running.  There HAD to be some open area somewhere!  I heard at breakfast that there are two large parks in town – one that is more open (and has cows grazing, supposedly) and the other that has manicured flowers and shrubs.  Well, I opted for the cows, of course!

While leaving the more congested market district I walked by “The Eagle and the Child” pub where the famed “Inklings” group (consisting of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and others) sat in the “Rabbit Room” and conspired to create all sorts of fiction. [oh – and by the way – – they DO sell rabbit quite commonly here at the meat market].  My other C25K entry covers a bit more of this adventure.  This picture is of the outside sign – – my heart melted knowing that the walls within this place heard the conversations of those great masters.

Later when I got back, I realized that I haven’t shared any video of by dorm room.  The style includes very late 60s/early 70s dorm room furniture, but the building is much, much older.

Here is “Kelly’s narrated video tour” of my “turf” for the next few weeks:

click here for a quickie-tour of Kelly’s living quarters at Oxford

This evening we were granted a special one-hour lecture by Sir David over the differences between the U.S. Constitution and the non-existent British constitution.  I am enamored by this delightful gentleman.  I found out today that he is in his eighties, and has visited the OU Summer Program at Oxford for each of the 36 years it has existed.  This picture shows him lecturing…but there’s a funny thing you can’t see.  The World Cup finals were going on at the same time as the lecture, and the pub managed by Brasenose College is just downstairs from our lecture hall.  Two points were scored during the lecture and ROARS erupted from the basement.
The students are encouraged to “do research” after classes each day in the pub.  I’ve not yet conducted any research, but I did conduct a short perusal so I could see the place.  It’s very nicely designed.  Here are a few pictures of our basement pub.  Cheers~!

Day 9:  Flowers, Candy and Romance…why Oxford works for young lovers and old romantics

Last night I was talking to my husband and for the first time since I’ve been gone I think we had a “I really miss you” moment.  So, with that in mind I thought I would put together some of my day in a mid-summer Valentine message to my hubby.  So – Mickey (and girls!), if you were here we could enjoy the following…and since you’re not, I’m writing the best tribute letter I can in order to share my day with you.  And readers, if you need a Valentine today as well – here you go!:

The FLOWERS – Wow, in a temperate climate like the UK, the flowers get lots of rain and chances to thrive.  Here are a few shots of the neatly trimmed botanical garden I ran by today, the flower market (with English flowers not generally sold in our mid-US area), and someone’s yard that had a lovely little perennial garden:

CANDY: Evidently, TOFFEE is quite the treat.  Remember something in C.S. Lewis’ books about Treacle?  Well, it’s a type of toffee…and it’s all delicious. And fattening. And delicious.

There is a little store at the end of the street named “Mr. Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe – Purveyor of Finest Confectionery.” I picked up a “Crunchy Bar” for a friend of mine at church, then I spied the chocolate covered currants, then I spied the Raspberry Chocolate Log, then I had to snap out of my sugar-addictive fit and get out of there.  FAST!

Romance…or, “Punting” as it were…

If you remember the brat pack movie “Oxford Blues” from the 80s, you might recall that Rob Lowe’s character took the Ralph Lauren model (Amanda Pays) who played the princess out on a boat.  It was long and flat, and she sat in one end while he talked and pushed it along with a pole on the other end.  “Punting” has a long standing tradition in this part of the country. I think it’s funny that those in Oxford stand on one end of the boat with their poles, and those in Cambridge stand on the other end.  Ha!  Here’s a picture I took through the sculpted rails on a bridge looking down at the boats on my run.

And here is a borrowed photograph of an Oxford couple punting.  The photoblogger is named “fantompoet” and here’s their link: http://fantompoet.com/index.php?showimage=196

So…today was a lot of learning and working, and MUCH reading.  I only ventured out to run, and am now back reading statutes.  But, I just want Mick and the girls (and my readers) to know that right before I came back inside the quad to begin my homework, I stopped in St. Mary’s church, said a prayer for a family I’ve been lifting up for quite some time, and said a prayer for my own family.

I miss you too!  Love always to Pappy, Rass and RyeDye – – Sincerely, Mams

Day 10:  At Christ’s Church College, God and the Humility of Seeing All Those who Died Before Us Trump Harry Potter.  And then, Harry is Way Cool Too. PLUS…The Bear!

After class this morning, I took a nap. We’ve finished learning what it takes to get a marriage in Oklahoma, and will be spending much time over the next week or two learning what a mess getting a divorce can be.  Of course, I’ve seen this in my therapy room, but seeing the cases, jurisdictions, precedents, etc. will be altogether confusing to a greater level, I’m sure.

I’m STILL not sure if my body is completely adjusted to the new time schedule although I would think by now it should be. Right?  Perhaps I get extra credit days because I’m middle aged?

See photo of walk upon entering Christ Church College: “My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage.”

When I woke up I knew my mission for my short walk today would be in the direction of Christ Church College. My children love Harry Potter and I’m not sure I could travel back home if I didn’t witness – IN PERSON – the dining hall after which the Harry Potter series was conceptualized and filmed.  Here are a few pictures paying deference to the dining hall scenes of the famous books and movies as well as a photographic tour of the grounds, the Church and the memorials.  I can’t really describe the feelings I experienced while looking at the WWI memorial, the breathtaking church, the knights and saints memorialized there with their dogs or a lion at their feet (representing Christ), and pane after pane of stained glass.  It was humbling and awe inspiring.

I also happened upon the right alley way and found “The Bear.” I’ve been saving my first pint for The Bear in honor of my friend Ellen who graduated from Oxford.  So – Ellen, I found it!  I had a pint of cider and it was delicious.

Here are a few pictures of the pub and the historical decor (ties from young students who graduated and ceremoniously gave their school ties to the pub – – labeled and signed, they cover the walls and ceilings in glass plated frames…”1939, St. John’s College, Cricket Team….or, 1968, Agricultural College…”).  I want to go back there – it’s quiet, historical and quintessentially Oxford.  Cheers!

40 Days in the UK (Days 4-6): So. Much. Information!.

Day 4: Trains & Rain, and “True Story” List of Observations.  OH, and Pasty rhymes with Nasty only it really is Tasty.

My day started out at 5:30 a.m.  My sleep patterns are completely screwed up right now – I couldn’t go to sleep until 3, and then to get up at 5:30 was tough.  So, I reset my alarm for 6, then RUSHED to get ready because my train to Bristol Park Meads station left at 7:00 and I had already paid for the ticket.  When the cab dropped me off at Paddington Station I had a slight panic.  The ticket machines weren’t reading anyone’s cards, and the ticket office was closed.  These machines work like they do at the movie theatre where you buy your ticket then swipe a debit card to get them at the gate.  The LAST machine read my card (whew), I got my tickets and RAN (literally – there were about 20 of us running) to get on the train.  I had two minutes to spare before it pulled out, but was breathing heavily when I finally got to my seat. Wowzers…I was awake then!!

Here’s a picture I took later that day on my return trip of a Paddington Bear kiosk in the station.

The train ride was interesting.  I had another “First Class Awareness” moment where I went into the wrong car at first and looked around.  “Wow,” I thought.  “What a nice train.”  Business men in designer suits were sitting around reading the paper and drinking coffee…it was very quiet.  There were only about four in the entire car.  THEN I realized the “First Class” sign was hanging right in front of my face so I made my way, car by car, down the row until I got to the coach section.  It was nice too – the chairs were just closer together.

The cab ride to the Benson’s home where I was going was absolutely nuts.  NUTS, I tell you!  The streets in Bristol are extremely narrow, and people are parked on both sides on most streets. It’s so bad that many of the streets up in the hills where the residences are have room for only one lane.  The cars are constantly backing up to allow a car who had traveled further down the block the right of way.  It was really funny, but crazy! In the US, I know people would freak if they drove that close and hit that many curbs and rocks.  I was holding onto the handles inside the cab for dear life, and bouncing so high the top of my head was hitting the headboard – it would have been funny but I was genuinely just holding on for life.  The cab driver got me to the general area of their home, then had to get out and point me down the street because he couldn’t drive up to their house…not enough room.

Here’s a picture of the signs in Bristol – they have “parking reports” and status updates because it’s such a problem.

The sign is showing that Temple has “spaces” but I swear I didn’t see while I was there.  All the other sections look like they were saying, “Sorry – not today.  We’re full.”

So I got to their house and met with Mr. Benson, Founder of the Bristol Community Family Trust (the largest marriage education services deliverer in the UK) for a few minutes before we walked down the hill.  I guess I should write “ran” – our clip was really fast and he rehearsed his responses to the prepared questions all the way there.  Then he would ask, “What about that answer?”  Then I would say something while were were still basically walk-running and he’d move on to the next one.  All this was taking place while we were dodging cars in the narrow streets.

We arrived at the BBC studio about 10 minutes before show time, checked in through their security, and made our way back.  Here’s a picture of Harry and I sitting in the studio waiting for the show to come on the air.  In no time, the show started.  Harry’s spot was to take place about 13 minutes into the hour.  Their first spot highlighted a speech by Sarah Palin and was followed by an in studio discussion over “Conservative Feminism,” and whether or not it could exist, how Palin’s message was different than Hillary Clinton’s, etc.  I was listening to the show because I was interested, while Harry and our hostess talked about her relationship issues with her teenagers.  I just wanted to hear what they were saying on the show so I ignored the relationship discussion.  I was glad that Harry was talking with her because normally I’m the one who gets engaged in those situations.

I liked the idea of the show, their take on it, and was glad I got to listen in on Harry’s complementary comments.  The host challenged him a bit, and we processed that on the walk back to the house, but I think it went pretty well.  Click this hyperlink to get to the show and then go to the July 2, top right if you want to listen. (The Sarah Palin/Part-Time Marriage show is the one from today).  I thought it was sweet that when we go back to the house, his wife said, “Jenny wasn’t very nice to you, was she?” (empathized with the challenging).

I’m going to write an entry at some point on British colloquialisms, metaphors, vernacular, etc.  But right now, I’m still soaking them in.  I will say that today when they were talking about “having a row (an argument) go down the potty” I giggled.

The Benson family were lovely hosts – they lived in a three story row house high on the hills of the older part of Bristol, and the walk back was slower so I got to look around.  Here are two pictures of that journey – the first was lavendar…growing everywhere. MMMmmmm.  Second was just a shot of how many stairs and upramps we traveled.  My legs are a bit sore right now.

Kate Benson was a cooking soul mate.  She has a cooking school and a lovely English kitchen.  While Harry and I talked about social policy, marriage education in the UK, the tax structure, etc. she prepared a divinely light and fresh meal.  Here are pictures of her kitchen and our meal.

BTW – it rained while I was on the train. My first English rain.  Evidently they feel they get way too much in Bristol, but in London they think it’s sort of average – not too much there.

To keep these blog entries manageable, I’m going to stop with thoughts here.  The train ride was lovely on the way home and I have some pictures below.  I’ll end with telling you about some genuine English cliche’s I’ve witnessed thus far – and then I’ll put captions on the pictures to end.

1.  There really are Lombardy Poplars everywhere.  They are used to line driveways, to divide property, and just in general…sometimes, it appears, to create windbreaks.

2.  There are really sheep on the English countryside. Tons of them.

3.  There are really children running everywhere in school uniforms, and quite frequently the little girls are wearing all sorts of hats, bows, pressed crisp cotton dresses with socks and Mary Janes.

4.  There are really groups of blokes standing together, drinking ale, and laughing their fool heads off at the end of a hard work day.  This is a sight to see….and they don’t care who hears them, or what they’re talking about. It’s kind of like a ritual.

5.  Pastys are sold everywhere, and I’ve had one.  They’re good.  Really good.  Mine had potatoes and corned beef in it.

6.  There really are Clydesdales in the pastures here.

7.  I saw TWO English riding horse farms today, one wherein someone was taking an English riding lesson.

Okay – that’s enough for the day.  Suffice it to say, not all we learned in the states is heresy.  I’m eternally grateful to Harry and Kate Benson and the beautiful and educational day in Bristol.  Nite.

*** ***
Here is a picture of a park in Bristol where you could, at one time, see a castle and four other cathedral towers.  It was beautiful.
Here is a picture taken off the train of Bath Spa, and then is followed by a picture of thousands of row houses in Bath Spa.  Row houses are everywhere – everywhere!
Here is a picture of British fashion (through a display window), and then a “One-Stop-Shop” handwashing machine – the soap, the water and the dryer are all together.
And finally, here was my “character of the day” – he was on his bike at the train station in Bristol and I thought you might enjoy seeing him.  I know I did.

Day 5 (7/3/10):  Vroom, Vroom! Ouch, Ouch! and Sigh, SIGH, and Siiiggghhh.

Vroom, Vroom! I have been taking pictures of cars since I got to London.  I’m so mesmerized by their automotive prowess and beauty that I feel like a teenager in my first romance – with a car! The first car grabbing my attention was a chocolate brown antique w/cream leather and polished wood interior.  The chrome shone in the sun and I heard angels singing in my head.  I was so dumbstruck I didn’t take a picture. Doh!

After that, I did.  Here are a few for your car show from London perusal.  I labeled all of them as best as I could.  If you’re not into cars, scroll down below them for the rest of the UK Daily Mail, Kelly version.

Mini Cooper with X-Ray Wrap
Bentley Azure with Gold Plates on the Matching Wheels

Peugeot 407 Coupe
Yellow Lamborghini (see note at bottom)
SmartforTwo City Coupe by Smart GmbH
Audi 4 Saloon
Mercedes R Class Grand Edition
BMW 635D Sport and Porche 911 Carerra Cabriolet
Range Rover Freelander
Alfa Romeo Brera
Note about cars: I chased a few with my camera that I just didn’t catch.  The picture of the Lamborghini is one of them.  I saw that thing three times, but it was going so fast I gave up.  The picture in my blog is from a search on Google images.  Sorry I couldn’t get the real one.

Ouch, Ouch: So, the bed at the hotel is hard as a rock, my suitcase is 56 pounds with my computer in it, and I frequently have bags over both shoulders. Between all that lugging the luggage, and the no-sleepie-on the plane, I decided to get a massage before I went to Oxford.  Usually I do this at the end of each semester – this time I was going to START my semester with one.  Let’s just say – I was sore before I went in, and I was sore when I came out…but in a better way. That chick left no muscle knot untied, and only said, “Um. You might be a little sore in the morning.”  One hour later – the pain came knocking.  But, I’m hurting in a good way now.  So – Ouch, OUCH, Ahh.

Sigh, SIGH, and SSiiiiggghh: Sigh #1: The Saturday morning market was lovely this morning.  See pictures below.

SIGH #2: It was HOT today, and after a cab, the underground, and two trains and a cab – I was worn out, hot, sweaty, and probably really, really stinky.  And, so were all the other people I encountered.  Elevators reeked!

SSiiiggghhh:  Got to Oxford, walked up to a huge wooden door with a knocker, entered Brasenose College and got a lump in the throat. Topiaries, flower boxes, sculpted shrubs…a large center lawn…St. Mary’s Church…my dorm is on the 4th floor looking down on High Street (I can hear groups of people laughing and a dog barking right now – and someone is singing in the background), 65 degree weather, special first night meal at the Beefeater ancient steakhouse, walking back to the College I opened the big door again and walked by a group of four students talking to each other about pronunciation of certain words in German, Italian, English and French and chuckling about nuances, and then….I heard violin music.  As I walked across the lawn to the entrance of my wing, I saw a student leaning against a tall rock wall playing the violin.  Another lump in my throat, another sigh.  Pure joy.

Below are pictures of the market today and then of the college tonight.

Nite, Nite.

Day 6: (7/4/10): God, Country and the 4th of July Oxford Baby

God: If you’ve watched “The Sound of Music” you might recall the sound of church bells ringing for a fairly long period of time when Maria and Capt. Von Trapp were married.  That’s the same sound I heard when I woke up this morning.  God is here in Oxford, and the High Church calls those within ear shot to come worship him on Sunday morning. Here’s a picture of the MASSIVE stained glass windows at St. Mary’s cathedral.  I get to walk by and look up at this masterpiece each time I go into town:

Country: On the train ride to Bristol a couple of days back, I looked across the way and spied a billboard basically shoving our US Independence Day back into our faces.  I smiled as I read: “4th of July – Independence Day for England.  Celebrating the Freedom to govern ourselves.”

4th of July: I was coming back from the square this morning and happened to think that my entire family is enjoying their Independence Day BBQ at the Roberts’ household.  I looked around and realized there wasn’t a flag in sight, no one was wearing red, white and blue clothing and there wasn’t an “Independence Day SALE” to be seen.  Just then I saw this little curly haired baby propped on top of his father’s shoulders.  He had a red and white striped shirt on, and a red, white and blue silk kerchief tied in a knot around his neck.  I asked if I could take his picture.  The parents pleasantly agreed and made a joke about retaining copyright privileges should it be sold.  So this little moment in time is my 4th of July this year, and I’m alright with that…Happy Independence Day!